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Letters: 'Marijuana menace' is making New Westminster unpleasant

Smoke if you want to, but why are you making the rest of us breathe it in?
Marijuana smokers are making New Westminster's outdoor spaces unpleasant for everyone else, says this letter writer.


We can’t go anywhere in New Westminster without walking through a cloud of marijuana smoke every few minutes. Walk past Moody Park any day of the week and you’ll get my drift, well actually, that drift. It just blows my mind what we spent all that time, money and effort beating back cigarette smokers, corralling them into designated areas, forcing restaurants and bars to install expensive ventilation systems, writing rules and bylaws to control offenders and generally making tobacco smokers the pariahs of our society, and now we have abandoned all of that, to let marijuana smokers do whatever they want. Apparently the existing smoking bylaws do apply to marijuana smokers, but it doesn’t seem as if anybody is bothering to enforce those rules.

Cigarette smoke was bad, but marijuana smoke is a hundred times worse — and I’m not talking about the health affects, I’m talking about the smell. That smell is horrific! It literally makes me ill, and I can’t get away from it. I can’t go for a walk in the city, or ride public transit or open my windows on a hot day, because the smell of marijuana is everywhere. This type of smoke lingers in the air; it doesn’t dissipate in the same way as cigarette smoke. Even if the people are not smoking it, it clings to their clothes, and I can’t stand next to them or worse yet, sit next to them in a bus, or restaurant, or theatre.

I don’t like being woken out of a sound sleep in the middle of a hot summer night because my bedroom window is open and my room has suddenly been invaded by the stench of skunk. Only it isn’t skunk, it’s marijuana smoke, and it’s coming from my neighbour who is enjoying a joint on his front lawn before he turns in for the night. Smoking outside, I assume, so he doesn’t stink up his own house, but he has no problem stinking up the neighbourhood. I don’t begrudge the man a moment of relaxation at the end of his day, but why does he have to invade my relaxation?

I’m not against smoking. I was a smoker for 20 years, and I am not one of those holier-than-thou, reformed smokers who thinks everybody should just quit. Smoke if you want to, I don’t care, but keep the stink to yourself. Get a HEPA filter, turn it on, and sit next to the machine when you smoke. That’s the only thing I can think of to deal with this problem.

Whether it’s cigarettes, cigars, marijuana or any other popular smoking material, the HEPA filter will deal with the smoke and the smell, at the source, which is the most efficient way to deal with it. We have already turned society inside out to deal with tobacco smokers, to no avail, it seems, so the only thing left to do is to make smokers responsible for their own mess. When I was a smoker, HEPA filters didn’t exist, but now we have a proactive technology to solve this problem once and for all.

Fortunately, fall will soon be upon us, our windows will be shut up tight, and we won’t be annoyed by marijuana smoke for a while, unless we want to go for a walk in the “fresh air." The federal government made marijuana legal, effectively letting the genie out of the bottle and releasing this menace upon us, now what are we supposed to do about it? More bylaws that can’t or won’t be enforced?

B. Gray, New Westminster

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